Love, royalty and amputation

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three more pre-Oscar mini-reviews

Love bites. So does being a king. And having to saw your own arm off is no day at the spa either.

So how can such horrid things make such great entertainment? Some people like happy-go-lucky cinema as an escape, but I enjoy movies about awful things, because it helps us realize our own lives ain't so bad after all!

So here's the Wicks on Flix take on three fine pieces of cinema that are about fairly awful things:

Blue Valentine

Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling star in this tragic tale of real love. Beginning at the end of their relationship, the film chronicles its demise. Originally rated NC-17 for strong sexual content, this film really does grab you by the throat. Williams is nominated for Best Actress, and deservedly so. But for me Gosling is the film's true heart. We first get to know the pair separately, and realize the aspects of one another's personalities that drew them to each other in the first place. Yet sadly there is a fundamental difference between them that means they're not meant to be. If there's a lesson here, it's to always consider your partner's feelings – don't make your Valentine's blue (groan).

If this trailer ( doesn't make you need to know how this story unfolds, then you might have no heart, in which case you won't like this movie anyway!

The King's Speech

What if you were terrible at public speaking, but you had to be a public speaker because you were, like, born into it? Man! That would suck! 

Geoffrey Rush is once again a powerhouse as a brazen Australian speech therapist (and failed actor) who's not afraid to tell it like it is – even if he's talking to a king. His silly yet no-nonsense character playing off of Colin Firth's staunch King George VI is a a triple-decker out-smart sandwich. The story behind the monarch who led Britain into Nazi Germany by overcoming personal and emotional barriers is paramount from a human and historical perspective. How different would history have unfolded if King George VI's broadcast to the nation was filled with stuttering, fear-laced words? This is a story of friendship, trust, and belief.


127 Hours

James Franco. 

Since his stint on Seth Rogan's fabulous but way too short-lived show Freaks and Geeks back in 1999/2000, he has been dusting a certain cool-factor over everything he touches (yes, even the otherwise nerdy Spiderman movies are halfway cool because of James). He was a loveable and moronic dirtbag inPineapple Express and later that year wowed us with the serious card as Sean Penn's faithful lover and partner activist in Milk.

But I digress...I've fallen even more in love with Franco since seeing 127 Hours - a true story of a near-death experience. As a rough, rugged, hiker/biker/outdoorsman adventurer, he's cockier than Donald Trump when trudging the Utah drylands, as Aron Ralston. He's meetin' the ladies, he's snappin' the pictures, he's feelin' the dirt in his fingers and in his soul. But a near-fateful plunge down a canyon almost kills his cool factor forever (Ralston's, not Franco's). 

Danny Boyle's fierce direction is panic-inducing, as we watch Ralston talking to himself to avoid insanity, fantasizing to avoid loneliness, rationing the 10 sips of water he has left and trying not to pee in order to avoid dehydration. A vision of his future son prompts him to do the unthinkable in order to get out of that ditch, and the shot of real-life Aron Ralston sitting on a couch with his wife at the end of the film is lump-in-the-throat inducing. Hopefully most of us don't have to endure a near-fatal canyon tumble to realize what's important in life.

I can't wait to see how cool and handsome James Franco is when he hosts the Oscars.

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